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My daughter has a B1/B2 visa which expires on 6th Sept 2019. She wants to return to the US in July or August on an Esta visa before the B1/B2 expires. Will she be able to obtain an Esta visa whilst still holding a B1/B2? Thank you for your advice

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    The ESTA is not a visa. What is your daughter's nationality? Is she eligible for the Visa Waiver Program? – JoErNanO Jul 17 at 6:49
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    And if she has a valid visa, then why bother? It makes the VWP/ESTA unnecessary. – Michael Hampton Jul 17 at 6:51
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    I am worried by your comment below of "her reason for travelling to the us is different so her current B1/B2 is not of use". If her reason for travelling is permitted under B1/B2 then her current visa can be used; if it isn't, then VWP will not help as no activities are permitted thereunder which are impermissible on B1/B2. Could you be clearer about the intended purpose of her visit? – MadHatter Jul 17 at 9:26
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    What is the duration of your daughter's visa and is it a multiple entry visa? When did she use it in connection with the organization mentioned in the annotations? Why did she get a visa instead of using the VWP for that trip? My guess is that the annotation is just to report why she has a visa when she otherwise wouldn't have needed one. That doesn't mean that the visa is valid only for that purpose (unless it says so explicitly, of course). – phoog Jul 17 at 13:07
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    See here where another traveler had a similar visa annotation. These are merely informative and not binding. – Michael Hampton Jul 17 at 15:53
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I don't think you're right about the visa being unsuitable for this trip, though it would be possible to have a better idea about that with more information (see my comment above).

However, there is a way to deal with the uncertainty. Officers are not supposed to admit people under the VWP if they have a valid visa for their trip, so arrive with both and let the officer decide whether the visa is valid for this trip. Step by step:

  1. Apply for ESTA authorization.
  2. If it is granted, on arrival in the US
    1. Avoid using an immigration kiosk. Say you need to speak with an officer. If asked why, say that you're not certain whether the visa is valid for your present purpose. Present the visa to the immigration officer and say "I am not sure whether this visa is valid for this trip, so I got ESTA authorization as well."
    2. If you cannot speak to an immigration officer, scan the visa at the automated passport control kiosk.
  3. If the ESTA application is not successful, travel to the US with the visa, or, if you're really worried, apply for a new visa.
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An ESTA or a B1/B2 visa only grant the right to present yourself at the border to apply for admission. They do not need to be valid for the duration of the stay - only at the time of entering the US. In other countries, visas have to be valid for the whole stay, but that is not true for B1/B2 visa and ESTA in the US.

The length of the admitted stay is also not dependent on the validity of the visa. Entering under the visa waiver program is actually worse here, as this typically means 90 days of allowed stay, whereas B1/B2 grants 180 days. However, the border officer may also choose a lower duration of admission. Regardless of the admitted duration, it should be clear to the officer that your daughter is not trying to live in the US based on her recent travel history.

In any case, there is simply no need to have overlapping ESTAs and B1/B2 visa as with the B1/B2 visa still being valid in August, your daughter can use that.

  • Thank you for your answer but her reason for travelling to the us is different so her current B1/B2 is not of use. Can she apply for an Esta visa before the other expires? – Alison Jul 17 at 8:39
  • Do you know if she can cancel her B1/B2 visa if she is not able to overlap the B1/B2 and Esta? – Alison Jul 17 at 8:41
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    I cannot find any evidence that UK citizens are allowed to stay for a period other than 90 days under the VWP. Could you give a pointer to this? – MadHatter Jul 17 at 9:21
  • @MadHatter Fixed. That was actually the other way around. – DCTLib Jul 17 at 11:32
  • This answer was given before the asker stated that the visa has an Annotation with their former company name on it. It doesn't address that fact, which is really the key issue here... – Doc Jul 17 at 14:56

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